Eagles Let First-Half Lead Slip at Providence

For the second straight game, Boston College women’s basketball was outscored in a quarter 21-6. Against New Hampshire this past weekend, BC took a beating in the second quarter, but rallied in the back half of play and won the game in overtime. On Thursday, the Eagles fell apart in the third frame after taking a 10-point lead in the first half and couldn’t muster quite the same comeback against Providence, falling 63-55.

The similarities between BC’s (5-7) loss to Providence College (7-5) and win over UNH last Sunday are striking. In both games, the Eagles won three out of the four quarters, shot over 40 percent from the field, and, of course, experienced a complete free fall during one period. This time, Providence responded much more effectively once the Eagles got their act together in the fourth quarter, and the Friars warded off a collapse of their own.

But the last two games BC has played are not carbon copies of each other. Against UNH, Milan Bolden-Morris brought the Eagles back with an incredible fourth-quarter scoring performance. Against the Friars, Bolden-Morris put in a much more consistent performance, still leading the Eagles in scoring with 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting, adding four buckets from 3-point-land on eight attempts. Taylor Ortlepp put up 12 points, but wasn’t nearly as efficient shooting over the Providence defense, going 4-of-11 from the field and just 2-of-7 from beyond the arc. Georgia Pineau put in another consistent performance. She was looking for her fourth double-double, but ended up just a point and rebound short, perhaps due to the fact that she fouled out with 90 seconds left in the game. The forward filled in admirably at the center position, as Emma Guy missed her second-consecutive game after hitting her head against the court in the Eagles’ loss to Seton Hall on Dec. 10.

The biggest difference in BC’s play came on the defensive end of the floor. After a dominant performance against UNH, the Eagles let up in the second half against the Friars. It was really a tale of two halves.

In the first, BC limited Providence to just 30 percent shooting on 26 attempts. The Eagles entered the break with a 26-of-21 lead—one that they held for 15 minutes of game time. But soon after intermission, they lost their touch, and the Friars ran rampant on the offensive end of the floor. Providence shot 70 percent from the field in the second half, going 2-of-3 from downtown. The 21-point third quarter practically buried BC. When all was said and done, Allegra Botteghi was 5-of-8 from the field, and teammate Jovana Nogic was 8-of-10 from the free-throw line on her way to 18 points. Clara Che shot 6-of-10, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc to finish with 15 points—and Ny-Asia Franklin went 5-of-6 from the field, adding 10 points of her own.

All of a sudden, an excellent defensive first half went to waste. To add insult to injury, Providence came out strong in the fourth quarter, immediately going on a 10-4 run to give the Friars a 52-36 lead. The Eagles’ chance at any comeback had been all but thrown out the window.

Throughout the season, BC has found a way to make a game out of apparent blowouts, most notably against Boston University over Thanksgiving break. Against the Terriers, the Eagles were down double digits in the final frame, but almost came back to win the game, losing by just four points.

But on Thursday, BC didn’t stage a comeback until there was only three minutes left on the clock. A 10-4 run of its own brought the game to 56-44, and then baskets from Ortlepp and Pineau, followed by a handful of free throws, brought the Eagles within six. Yet the 16-4 run proved too little, too late. Pineau fouled out, Providence started getting to the line even before BC had to start intentionally fouling, and the Friars grabbed a nine-point lead with 20 seconds to go to seal the deal.

Providence ended up shooting 47.8 percent for the game, and 38 percent from deep. One half of good defense wasn’t enough to earn the Eagles a win. Still, there were a couple of positives for head coach Erik Johnson to take away from the game: Sydney Lowery had her best game since the loss to BU, going 2-of-3 from the field, hitting her only two free throws, and notching an assist and a rebound. Bolden-Morris’s continued success on the offensive end has to be reassuring for Johnson as well, but the second-half performance will be a tough pill for BC to swallow.

The Eagles are going to need to work on maintaining their level of execution from one frame to the next. Losing quarters by 15 points makes it difficult to win games. They’ve come out on top in seven of their last nine periods of competitive play, but only have a .500 record to show for it. Conference play begins in two games, and if BC can’t steady the ship, it could once again find itself stuck at the bottom of the ACC standings.

Featured Image by Kaitlin Meeks / Heights Staff